Storystar features short stories by writers around the world. Publish your short story, read short stories others have published, and share these stories with everyone!
Story listed as: Fiction For Adults | Theme: Drama | Subject: Love / Romance / Dating | Published here : 09/28/2017
By Dill McLain
Born 1949, F, from Zurich, Switzerland
Author Profile
Breakfast time was already over in the Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati. However, a woman with an extremely wild hairstyle and a completely tear-stained face was sitting there at the table, still eating. She was wearing a pink jogging suit and she seemed to have endless time. Staring into the air, obviously without seeing anything special, she sat there seemingly bored, then and again guiding a piece of bread into her mouth or taking a sip of a cappuccino that must have been cold already. A very good looking artist in his forties was efficiently moving around with huge framed paintings, trying to hang them up here and there on thin wires that were hanging from the ceiling – obviously specially arranged for this. The works of art showed modern compositions of curved patches in different colours – such as waterfalls and rivers - which seemed to move like waves through the paintings, mingling and separating again. They all had a splendid drive, witnessed the good hand of the artist, and invariably invited one to stay a bit longer and be immersed into this art. Although something seemed to be missing, perhaps a captivating highlight. The artist was preparing the presentation of his final six works of art for the forthcoming opening of his exhibition that evening.

And then an angry outcry sounded through the elegant breakfast hall, “What on earth are you doing, are you mad? You’ve just destroyed them, they were not quite dry yet!” The artist was about to freak out, running from one corner to the other, letting fly clouds of curses in dramatic pitch. The woman in pink had been trying to open a cellophane pack containing the healthy cornflakes mixture, and as the pack was so difficult to open, she needed all her strength, ending up using her teeth to help. The cereal package then suddenly opened and the whole contents scattered wildly over the table. In the useless attempt to avoid this cornflakes cloud, she made in a reflex action with both hands gesticulating movements, so that the cup of cappuccino, the freshly pressed fruit juice, yoghurt, as well as the open pot with the dark cherry jam flew over the table, ending up on two of the large paintings in oil paint that the artist had parked standing upright, leaning against the next table. It was a total mess. Fruit juice and coffee was now running across these delicate pieces of art, and then the yoghurt and the sticky cherry jam took a bit more time now slowly moving over the canvas. One of them was almost fully covered with milk, which the woman in pink just minutes ago had got from the buffet to pour over her muesli mix. The artist seemed to lose control and was holding his head with both hands. The man from the reception desk came running to see what was going on, and two guests who came for a reservation were also watching the scene. In addition, some passers-by were peering curiously through the large window. And now the owner of the hotel also arrived, an heir of a well-known family in town. He looked imploringly at the two disfigured paintings and was obviously searching for the right words. The woman in pink was sitting there, completely calm, leaning back with hanging arms, simply staring into the two destroyed artworks, expressionless and somehow rather indifferent, despite the fact that she had caused the mess.

The artist was desperate and saw his reputation getting seriously damaged. The two works now destroyed were the core works of this exhibition, and thus the most expensive ones, and should have been presented on the large wall in this hall, where the speeches would be held at the opening of the event. A discussion began about cancelling the exhibition. But even with today’s digital messaging capabilities, where information could be sent out within seconds, this would still cause considerable problems. A row of important guests of the local society were invited as well as the press, and it would in any case result in a loss for the Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati as well as for the artist, who seemed to be close to tears. Helplessness reigned! Now the artist indeed pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and began to wipe his eyes, one after the other and with a very dramatic expression on his face. For him it was the end of the world.

“Stop this nonsense! What happened has happened! I did not do it on purpose, holy crap, and it does not help at all now standing around with sad and helpless faces. What we need now is to find a solution!” came the dry voice of the woman in pink. The artist gave a loud sob and threw a devastating glance at her, almost disgusted, underlining his thinking with a disparaging gesture in her direction and then half turning his face to the other side. “No piece of art of this kind can be replaced within a few hours, you haven’t got a clue!” he threw in, with an obvious angry undertone. The woman in pink sat up, her eyes suddenly flashed, and shouted back, “Stop freaking out, and calm down. This is not the end of the world!” She placed herself in front of the artist and ordered, with a competent voice, and as if it were the most natural thing in the world, “Please get a selection of quick drying acrylic colours!” and turning towards the owner of the palazzo, “I would like you to show me your storeroom with old furniture in the basement, now please!” Before she followed the owner who frowning headed towards the corridor, she turned back to the artist, who was standing there with disbelieving eyes, and she said, with a light smile on her lips, “Hurry up, we meet in ‘Violetta’ on the top floor in half an hour!” Then she disappeared through the door.

She was right, the large storeroom of this house with a long history was the perfect place; within minutes she found what she was looking for. The elegant owner stood at the entrance and saw her now approaching with two wooden doors that must have belonged to some kind of wardrobes in the past but were now standing in the very back in the half-dark, apparently forgotten. “How about these, could we have them? They would fit the purpose perfectly and become a total success!” the woman in pink inquired, somehow persuaded that the answer would be positive, and therefore already walking with the two doors to the way out. “Ahem, they are from some cupboards we now use without doors to present decorative objects in the corridors; we never used the doors, yes you can have them!” the elegant man replied, wondering a bit what she intended to do with these pieces of wood, and followed her after locking the door. They passed the reception desk, where the woman in pink stopped for a moment, put the doors down, and explained, “The vernissage will take place as planned, for sure! So no reason for panic! Please get two old bed sheets and a large plastic sheet, and bring it all up to ‘Violetta’, now!” She grasped the two wooden doors and disappeared.

Half an hour later, the artist appeared at the reception desk with several plastic bags and glanced full of doubt at the receptionist, shaking his head several times and asking for the way to ‘Violetta’ – which he realized was obviously the name of one of the hotel rooms - and then he also disappeared in the direction of the elevator.

The woman in pink had in the meantime prepared one corner of the room, transforming the space into a kind of a workshop with the help of two bathroom stools on which the wooden doors – which she had thoroughly dusted - were resting. The floor beneath was largely covered with bed sheets and also covered with a thick plastic sheet. When she heard a knock on the door, she jumped up and moved towards the entrance to open the door. The artist stood there with various plastic bags, looking at her with an expression full of doubts, dissatisfaction and deep disgust. He then moved into the room passing her quickly and somewhat annoyed, and placed all the bags abruptly on the floor in the middle of the room, angrily spitting out, “What the hell should all this bring in the end, you destroyed my works by your idiotic fuss at the table – they’re irreplaceable, and the prospect of a half-way tolerable or somehow partly successful event this evening is absolutely zero, you silly cow!”

“Hi, my name is Luna, not Vacca,” she patted his shoulder, “and yours is Sandro from what I could read on your paintings. Sit down over there, and stop raging!” She pointed to the chair in front of one of the lying wooden doors. He sat down hesitatingly and growling. She unpacked the paint tubes and placed them efficiently next to his feet together with some brushes as well as a towel. “Now you are going to prove that you are really an artist! You will paint on these doors your typical wavy surfaces in various colours, however since we have a certain time pressure, you will perform it quickly, full of powerful drive and pleasure! I will then after do my part, and give both works a finish, off you go!”

Sandro first thought that the woman was totally crazy, but the way she had set up things, at the same time let doubt arise about this first thought. Actually, it let him think that she might have something up her sleeve of which he had no clue. And her decided way of explaining her plan was unusual and sounded quite interesting. With a certain automatism, he then began to open the tubes with the acrylic paint, and while leaning over the paint tubes he observed her surreptitiously. She now had her hair combed and arranged in a ponytail. A light make up emphasized her face to irresistible advantage, giving her a dramatic touch. Overall seen she was an attractive woman with a well-formed body. She glanced at him with a smile, and he pretended somehow irritated to align the different paint tubes in a certain row, which in fact was just to win time. Luna then took a magazine and placed herself on the antic sofa to read.

After staring for a few minutes at the wooden door, Sandro finally shook his head, muttering some unclear comments, and began to paint. He decided to give this mysterious art project - proposed by this woman coming out of the nowhere - a try, and with efficient movements he stroked large wavy patches of acrylic paint right over the main area of the wood, not even letting a straight rim uncovered. “Why not do something crazy for once!” came an inner voice, filling him with artistic pride and pushes of creativity. So far he had never been painting on wooden doors. He now even felt somehow unleashed, inspired and in a new way quite satisfied. After about forty-five minutes, he stated, relaxed and almost a bit amused, “Here we go, you can now take over!”

Luna arose from her seat, put the magazine down and came to see his work. “Yes, perfect, this is exactly what I wanted, now you can go on with the second work!” she commented, approvingly nodding, as if it was the most normal thing in the world. Then she sat down on the ground directly in front of the half finished painting, reached over to the paint tubes and moved three colours closer to her. With a brush in her hand she remained a moment without moving, she seemed to concentrate looking intently at the coloured patches on the wood. Sandro began to work on the second wooden door, however, out of the corner of his eye he was watching meticulously what she was doing. She of course knew this very well. Suddenly, she started to act, and within almost no time she painted a kind of a walking tree, upright and over the whole dimension of the door, moving with large steps across the multicoloured waves. It looked great, and gave the whole work a wonderful movement. Sandro was so astonished about her creative action, that he for a moment sat there open-mouthed, holding his paintbrush downwards, so that acrylic paint smeared on his trousers, he was stunned. Absolutely stunned, and did not notice that he was happily smiling at her with shiny eyes. This was unbelievable, he thought. “Come on, get on with your work, I’m waiting!” demanded Luna, showing a very contented expression, as well as a meaningful smile. She sat there next to Sandro, watching him painting his powerful waves with well-experienced strokes, and she thought by herself, that he was doing it quite well, and that he was actually a rather good-looking man. But no doubt, he needed a new incentive to bring out his creativity. Sandro felt her eyes scrutinizing him. Finally he paused, looking at her, showing a face full of charm, in a way he had not done for a very long time. Then he continued with his task.

After finishing his part, he again commented, “Here we go, you can take over now!” stood up, and gave the seat free for her. He went over to the sofa, and from there he was then watching her closely painting her part, this time a dancing tree. She knew exactly what she was doing, and it was clear to him, that this was by far not an artistically inexperienced woman. He enjoyed watching her, and he felt a hell of a satisfaction climbing through his whole body. This short workshop put his world upside down. He was thrilled, and at the same time he suddenly felt at home. He stripped off his shoes and moved his legs on the sofa. He folded his arms behind his head, leaned back, and asked, with an almost confidential tone in his voice, “This is not the first time that you paint, this is now clear to me, you must be an artist!”

“I finished the academy of arts, and participated in two exhibitions, where I could even sell some works. In the following three years, I travelled the world, doing some art here and there, but also enjoying life. After this, I came back and - since I had run out of money - took a job in a design enterprise, where I actually could do some good work, even though of course I had to observe a certain frame given in the various projects. In my spare time, I went on creating my own works, and again, I could successfully participate in some group exhibitions. I was just having my first own exhibition, when I met that irresistible man with whom I then maintained a relation for almost six years. We did not live together, he said that there were certain problems in his family, and that he could not yet get on with his divorce. He came to my vernissage with a group of men, flattered and charmed me, and conquered me completely on the spot. He was in every respect what I thought would be the perfect partner for me: He was good-looking, well educated, sporty and very interested in culture and art. And he was working as general manager in an import and exports firm, which required regular travelling. So from then on, we met in all sorts of romantic places in and out of the country, apart from the time that we spent in my tiny flat. He found it better for me to get back to my work in the design firm, and I was so stupid and obedient to follow his idea, just to please him. So in the end, there was not much time for my own painting creativity anymore.

We got on well, and for me it was dead certain that one day we would get married and move in together. Yesterday, we should have met here in this hotel to celebrate our six-year anniversary. We have been here before, liked it very much, and thought this would be exactly the right place for our private jubilee. He did not appear. And late night came an email message telling me that it was over with us, and that he could never get a divorce, because this would lead him to lose his well-paid and influential position along with all the amenities, as he was working in the company belonging to his father-in-law. He wished me good luck. This was it then.

I sat for a long time there on the sofa, where you are sitting now, trying to understand what was happening. Overall, why had I been fallen into the arms of such a bastard of a man, trusting him absolutely, giving him all my feelings and love, just to earn finally, after six long years, such a terrible load of cruelty and disappointment? Last night, I spent a very bad night with almost no sleep, but constantly fighting with my self-esteem, and of course weeping like mad. Despite the fact that he does not deserve it at all!”

Sandro had carefully listened, and was now looking at her with a face full of sympathy. He was just about to express some suitable words to console her, when she said, almost business-like, “We must fix some hooks at the back of the wooden paintings to attach the wire to hang them up, I’m sure they have the necessary downstairs in the workshop of the hotel. If not, we will just place them on stools!” Sandro jumped up, “OK, I will get this done!” and left the room.

When he came back, she was in bed sleeping. He decided not to make noise, and that they would present the two new art works - following her idea - on stools. She had prepared a label for each work with the title written on it, and on the next line after the word price: “Will be sold to the highest bidder of tonight”! He smiled, and sent a rather loving glance over to the sleeping woman. He was a bit helpless with what he should do now, and sat down on the sofa, letting the thoughts run their way. He leaned back, and finally he also fell asleep.

The sound of chinking glasses woke him up. He sat up, still lightly dazed. She stood in front of him with two glasses of wine in her hand. She was wearing black leather trousers and a dark violet top with shiny applications in form of words. Her hair was tied up in a loose pony, and she wore a pair of probably very expensive earrings with stones matching her top. She had put on a makeup that emphasized her wonderful eyes. Sandro was speechless, and did not know what to say, because he felt great bewilderment.

“Or would you prefer to sleep through to the night and miss your own vernissage?” she joked smilingly, holding one glass under his nose. He reached for it, and slowly got up. “Come over here, you should eat something before your great appearance as artist in residence, you have to be fit and brilliant!” She had prepared a large plate with Parma ham and a smaller plate with Parmesan cheese, and offered him now freshly cut bread. They were eating and chatting about this and that. Finally, it was time to go downstairs and get ready for the guests to come. Before opening the door, Luna turned towards Sandro and said, “I hope it’s OK, when I join you!” He nodded and threw in, “But of course, you’re co-responsible of the outcome!” She hesitated a moment, and then said, “To be frank, these other two works, I mean the ones that I smeared over with cornflakes, juice, yoghurt, jam and cappuccino, were not your best works, they were rather boring, that’s why I could first not understand the great fuss you made!” He swallowed, and thought that somehow she was right. “And I think this would pep up your outfit a bit!” and placed a long, dark blue scarf around his neck, “Off we go!”

They each carried a dry wooden door-work and happily passed the reception desk, smiling at the young man who with most astonished eyes looked at the two artworks, behind him appeared the owner of the palazzo and seemed also amazed.

There were already some guests arriving and within a short time, the vernissage was in full swing. The artworks along the corridor had admirers, however no doubt, the main attention was on the large works in the main hall, the painted cupboard doors. They seemed to be a great attraction, and the photographer from the press could not stop making pictures. Groups of connoisseurs gathered in front of each work, discussing about the interesting idea, the drive in the painting, and of course about the possible price, and where the bids would stop. On the list attached to the chair, there were already several bids registered. In fact it seemed to have become almost a kind of a self-organized auction. There was a good atmosphere, with interesting conversations, repeatedly interrupted by cheerful laughter.

A few minutes before closing time at nine o’clock, a very smartly dressed man about mid thirties approached Sandro, presented his business card, and announced that he would buy the two door-works in the breakfast hall, his bid was the top one, and furthermore he explained that he was the designated general manager of the new branch of a well known bank opening its doors next month in town, and that he wants to buy six more works of this kind for the meeting rooms and for the training room of the staff. He outlined that he was a great tree lover, and finds the works are imparting a tremendous movement but at the same time also calmness and confidence, thus giving the watcher an uplift and positive input. “This is exactly what we wanted to achieve with these works, you are perfectly right. It is with great pleasure that we will create six more works for you!” Sandro heard the voice of Luna who had planted herself in front of the banker, with the accomplished attitude and manner of the top artist.

“You two form a wonderful artist-couple, I am almost a bit jealous!” added the banker affably, and left with an elegant gesture waving into the room.

Luna and Sandro stood there in front of their works, amused but also embarrassed, and looked almost shyly at each other. Sandro found first the composure again. He took her around the waist, and proclaimed with a very happy voice, “You heard what he said, the banker, he must be right, he is a wealthy business man. Wonderful, let’s go to enjoy a delicious pasta, I know a place around the corner serving heavenly pasta dishes, and we can discuss our upcoming collaboration for the six artworks for the banker!”

The restaurant really served the most delicious pasta, and the two felt divine, after the wonderful success at the vernissage.

Sandro had been divorced for many years already, and was actually since then a convinced single, enjoying then and again a romantic interlude, but would not enter any obligations anymore, for the rest of his life. This was his unwavering attitude until mid afternoon of this day, when suddenly it was heavily rumbling inside him. Namely, exactly when he had been sitting there in the hotel room called ‘Violetta’, listening to Luna’s explanations about what he had to do with the two wooden doors. From one minute to the other he had felt better and better all the way to the point of being completely changed and uplifted. Later when he had come back to the hotel room finding her asleep, he had felt so good. It had been like coming home. Then after, when they enjoyed the snack together that she had organized while he was having a nap, he realized how stunning she was looking, there began to descend from his eyes unstoppably miraculously effervescent waterfalls. Of course, he had tried hard not to show it, because of being terribly afraid of this overpowering feeling. At the vernissage, he actually hardly had concentrated on what the visitors had been commenting. He had just been acting automatically, charmingly smiling and mainly following her, also mainly looking at her. His insides had seemed totally confused, but in a wonderful way.

Now he glanced over the table at Luna. “Where will we create the six works ordered by the banker, in the room ‘Violetta’ or in my atelier?” he heard himself cheerfully asking. “In your atelier, of course!” she countered immediately, giving him a radiant smile. Then she added, “I hope you can arrange for a second working place for me in your atelier!” Sandro looked up, his toes were wildly circling with joy under the table, and said, “That’s exactly how we do it! But now we go to ‘Violetta’ for a good night drink with her, she brought us so much unexpected luck!”

They strolled along the narrow streets, without talking, holding each other by the hand, watching the display in the shop windows of the many small fashion and decor shops, commenting on everything and the latest fashion, and giggling like teenagers.

And then, suddenly, they were standing in front of a shop window with a large mirror inside. They stood there and looked at the couple facing them in the mirror, smiling happily to their deepest insides, with radiant eyes. And then Sandro stated, almost solemnly, and holding her hand tighter, “Right now, I am the happiest man in the world, and I am ready to break all my iron principles, to hell with them, and ask you whether you could accept me as replacement for that man who did not come today?”

Luna just stood there, next to him, her hand in his, looking at the reflection of them in the mirror, and nodded several times, happily smiling.

They embraced, and then rushed back to ‘Violetta’, half walking, half, running, half skipping. On the way they passed the cornflake-smeared oil paintings of the original series and noted that they had also been sold!
This story's current rating, and the Storystar rating guide, may
be viewed by clicking on the above 'Rate This Story' link.
More stories by this Author      Send this story to a friend.
Tell Your Story Now     Read This Month's Featured Stories